Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has issued a statement apologizing for comments he made to the team’s ownership group in June when the organization pursued Luol Deng as a free agent.
The comments from Ferry, where he referred to Deng, who is Sudanese, as someone who has “a little African in him,” led to an independent internal investigation. It was during that investigation where a racially-insensitive email that Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson wrote to Ferry was discovered.
The e-mail suggested that the Hawks black fans were keeping its white fans away from the games. Hawks CEO Steve Koonin also announced that Ferry was disciplined for his comments about Deng. The discipline imposed on Ferry was undisclosed.
Ferry has said he has no immediate plans to resign and released the following statement:
In regards to the insensitive remarks that were used during our due diligence process, I was repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players. I repeated those comments during a telephone conversation reviewing the draft and free agency process. Those words do not reflect my views, or words that I would use to describe an individual and I certainly regret it. I apologize to those I offended and to Luol [Deng], who I reached out to Monday morning.
In terms of the email that Bruce sent, the situation is disturbing and disappointing on many levels and I understand Bruce’s words were offensive.
I am committed to learning from this and deeply regret this situation. I fully understand we have work to do in order to help us create a better organization; one that our players and fans will be proud of, on and off the court, and that is where my focus is moving forward.
Meanwhile, many of Atlanta’s civil rights leaders, including Rev. Markel Hutchins and Rev. Gerald Durley, are set to meet with the Hawks organization over the next two days to discuss the matter.
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